‘Shaken baby’ trial begins

The “shaken baby” case against Shelly Richter, Taos, began this afternoon, with Cole County Assistant Prosecutor Cheryl Nield telling jurors the state’s evidence will show a 7-month-old boy was fine when he was left at Richter’s in-home day care on Aug. 19, 2010, and he was severely injured only a few hours later.

A Cole County grand jury indicted Richter, now 42, in September 2010 for felony child abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

Richter’s attorney, Shane Farrow, didn’t make an opening statement, reserving his opportunity to make it later, after the state finishes presenting its evidence.

Seven men and seven women were chosen to hear the case. Two of those people are alternates who will be released at the end of the trial, before the jury begins its deliberations.

Nield told jurors that several doctors will testify this week that Richter’s explanation — that she stumbled and accidentally dropped the boy about three to four feet to the floor — “is not possible. ... The doctors are going to tell you that’s not how it happened.”

The boy’s parents and pediatrician were the state’s first three witnesses.

All said Lane Schaefer experienced normal growth and development, with no concerns, before the incident, but now faces a number of handicaps including blindness.

Under cross-examination, both parents agreed they had no reason to suspect Richter of abuse before the 2010 incident.

But since the incident, Jessica Schaefer testified, her son’s development has made “very slow progress.”

After he spent nearly a month in the hospital after the incident, Jessica said, “When we left the hospital, Lane was a newborn, again — at 8 1/2 months.”

More details in Tuesday’s News Tribune.

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